ESPOT, SPAIN – The women of Team USA continued to dominate with another silver and bronze medal performance by Laurie Stephens (Wenham, Massachusetts) and Saylor O’Brien (Woodland, Utah) respectively on the second day of competition at the 2023 FIS Para Alpine World Championships. The full roster of U.S. athletes hit the mountain for the alpine combined, a two-run race made up of the super-G and slalom courses. The U.S. now holds a total of four medal wins at the event, two silver and two bronze.
With a time of 2:17.71, the second silver medal marks Stephens’ 17th podium placement on the world championship stage, a feat she herself didn’t realize. Her storied career includes five Paralympic Games and eight world championships across the span of over two decades. Stephens remains one of the most notable female Para alpine sit skiers in history.
“I didn’t even know that I had seventeen yet! It’s ski racing, I love skiing and racing, and here because I love it,” said Stephens. “The course wasn’t bad; I definitely think I could have skied better today but I’m working on my progression and pretty happy with how it went.”
A relative fresh face on the scene and in the women’s sitting class, O’Brien added her second medal of her career on the world stage finishing strong with a time of 2:28.87. The course today proved challenging for the young skier but noted that it has given her momentum going into the rest of the week’s events.
“It was kind of a hard fight today for both courses but feeling happy with my performance,” O’Brien said. “This is my first alpine combined, so it was definitely a traverse over from the long boards to all of sudden going to short, so I was figuring how to get into that slalom mentality pretty quickly.”
To round out the women, Paralympian Allie Johnson (Western Springs, Illinois) grabbed a career best seventh place in the alpine combined at world championships. In the men’s standing class Paralympic silver medalist Thomas Walsh (Vail, Colorado) just missed the podium taking fourth place only seven-tenths of a second behind Sweden’s bronze medal winner Aaron Lindstroem. As the sole Paralympic alpine skier to win a medal at the 2022 Paralympic Winter Games, Walsh will look to repeat his performance from Beijing in the giant slalom on Thursday.
The youngest on the team, 18-year-old Jesse Keefe (Bellevue, Idaho) finished with a career best 11th place with roommate Andrew Haraghey just behind him ending in the 13th place spot. In the men’s sitting class, Paralympians Ravi Drugan (Eugene, Oregon) and Matthew Brewer (Huntington Beach, California) also snagged career best performances finishing eighth and ninth respectively.
“I feel amazing,” said Brewer. “I finished my first alpine combined race ever. Slalom was a struggle all the way through, but I had a good time. I always fight and it was definitely a fight, but it wasn’t as scary as I expected. I’m ready for this so it’s only on up from here.”
Competition resumes on Wednesday, Jan. 25 with the men’s and women’s downhill races beginning at 1:00 p.m. local time/ 7 a.m. EST. All events will be streamed through FIS’ YouTube page with live results available to view at this link. Follow U.S. Paralympics Alpine Skiing on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for daily updates from Espot.
Tuesday, Jan. 24 – Alpine Combined Results
Laurie Stephens - women’s sitting
Saylor O’Brien - women’s sitting
Thomas Walsh – 4th, men’s standing
Allie Johnson – 7th, women’s standing
Ravi Drugan – 8th, men’s sitting
Matthew Brewer – 9th, men’s sitting
Jesse Keefe – 11th, men’s standing
Andrew Haraghey – 13th, men’s standing
Patrick Halgren – DNF
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